No Good DeedBy: Ali Franklin
Haverwood College, Book 3
Ryan glared at her opponent. She could take him, but then she’d have to get through his brothers, who were bigger and stronger. She looked left, then right. No one was close enough to help.
She took a deep breath and pulled back her right leg. The closest kid smiled, realizing she was telegraphing her next move. He stepped closer. She leaned right, then kicked left.
The ball sailed toward the sideline. One of Ryan’s teammates sprinted for it as an opponent closed in. There was a brief scuffle and the ball went out of bounds.
Ryan sighed. She could never figure out how eleven-year-olds could be so good at this game. They could barely control their own bodies, but they could kick a soccer ball like they belonged in the pros. She shook her head and prepared to go after the throw-in.
The Haverwood College Student Government’s “Fourth Friday” event with the county orphanage was well attended. There were twelve students and staff members from Haverwood and eighteen kids from the orphanage this morning. It was just enough to have a raucous fifteen-on-fifteen game of soccer.
Ryan felt a raindrop on her head, then another on her shoulder. She looked up. The sky, overcast since yesterday, was now an ominous gray. She shivered as she realized the temperature had dropped.
Late January weather in North Texas was unpredictable in the extreme. It could be sunny and seventy degrees one weekend and sleeting or snowing a few days later. Sometimes the high temperature varied by forty degrees from one day to the next.
And then there was the hail. Storms were a regular occurrence, as were “ice bombs” of various sizes. It wasn’t unusual for the news to feature pictures of softball-sized hailstones that had damaged cars and attic windows.
Realizing the rain was going to worsen, Ryan waved her arms and shouted for the closest participant to pick up the ball. Before the kids could protest, she called out.
“Let’s go into the Rec Center.” She pointed to the big building at the other end of the field. “We can play in there.”
Louise Carson, the director of Haverwood’s outdoor education office, jogged over to Ryan. “I hope it’s not crowded in there this morning. There might not be room for us.”
Ryan nodded as she and Lou waited for the rest of the participants to walk in front of them. The two administrators would bring up the rear and make sure no one was left outside. Ryan pointed as she counted the kids.
“Sixteen, seventeen…eighteen. Okay, that’s all of them.” They moved toward the Center. “There aren’t any classes in there this morning, and the facilities are first-come, first-served. If it’s full, we’ll try to convince someone to join us. Everyone likes to play with kids, right?”
They entered the facility to find only one of the three basketball courts being used. Ryan staked out one of the remaining courts and asked the students to close the big nylon curtains that separated the courts from each other. Meanwhile, she talked with the student who was running the front desk.
“I wouldn’t play soccer in there,” the student said. “The curtains don’t reach all the way to the floor. A heavy ball like that can roll through to the other courts. It could be dangerous.” He waggled his eyebrows. “But you’ve got the perfect number of people for dodgeball.”
Dodgeball! Ryan practically squealed. She hadn’t played in years, and she was sure the kids would love it.
Two minutes later, Ryan walked toward the court with a net bag full of red rubber balls. The third basketball court was now occupied and she listened to the sounds of students at play. It was one of her favorite sounds in the world.
She reached their court and told the participants about the new plan. As she suspected, they were happy to play dodgeball. They kept the same teams they’d had outside and lined up the balls in the center of the court. Ryan was just about to start the game when a loud voice interrupted.
“Dean McCabe! Dean McCabe! Stop!”
Ryan looked over at the opening in the curtain. Five Haverwood students were waving her over. She held up her hand to the dodgeball players and said, “Just a sec, guys.” Then she jogged over to the group to see what was on their mind.